Jersey Caprese Salad, Hold the Basil
I think there is another reason I am still living in New Jersey (besides its close proximity to Manhattan).
Just to have those 3 months to grow and eat tomatoes.
Yes, they are that good, cause believe me, the weather is annoying as are some other things which I will not complain to you about today.
I know you've seen a billion Caprese salads out there, but this one today is different.
Because I used 5 varieties of heirlooms plus cherry and grape tomatoes that I picked yesterday.
Because I used an amazing special balsamic vinegar made from Moscato grapes from Asti in Piedmont.
Because I stole Lori Lynn's idea and used fennel pollen (flowers) and thyme blossoms instead of the traditional basil (thank you LL).
Where do you get the fennel flowers?
Off the fennel plants, silly. This week only.
Lucky for me, my immediate neighbor at the MCG grows fennel.
It is very delicate and wilts by the time I get it in the car for the ride home from the garden (about an 8 mile drive).
It smells like anise, and crumbled on the fresh burrata with the spicy tomatoes, it is truly what summer in NJ is all about (maybe summer in Piedmont too).
Arrange a variety of cut up and sliced heirloom tomatoes on a big platter. Scatter with sliced sweet 100's and yellow pear tomatoes.
Place big clumps of fresh mozzarella cheese or burrata (even better).
Sprinkle everything liberally with sea salt (I love Maldon).
Next, a few cranks of black pepper.
Drizzle with the best aceto balsamico money can buy and some great olive oil (use it sparingly).
Arrange the thyme blossoms and pinch the fennel flowers in between your fingers and scatter over everything.
On a side note:
The waitress we had this weekend at a favorite Jersey shore spot told us the specials for the evening.
She said they had the "Jersey Hair Loom Tomatoes with a Vinegar ette".